Templenoe are what GAA is all about

December 8th, 2015
by Weeshie Fogarty

Mallow last Sunday, the Munster junior hurling and football finals, a fabulous GAA complex lovingly looked after by an army of local club volunteers, there were fifty on duty, directing traffic, guiding patrons from the four clubs involved, pleasant and courteous, always so helpful, just volunteers, for the sheer love of their club.. A minor miracle in itself that the pitch was in such superb conditions and two games went ahead without the slightest problem.  Two miles out the road Mallow racecourse was completely submerged in in around two feet of water, it had been a horrendous few days as Storm Desmond battered the country but what we witnessed under lights as Templenoe litterly blew their Clare opponents away was minor miracle in itself in many ways.

I never cease to be amazed at what Kerry football continuously throws up, just when you believe you understand The Secret of Kerry along comes Templenoe to confound and amaze, to mystify and thrill.  Here you have this little community between Kenmare and Sneem, no centre, no village, no school and yet they have produced one of the most exciting, skilful, and superb football teams we have seen for a long time from such a small rural area.  Last Sunday they continued to delight their followers as they captured their first ever Munster junior championship and in doing so turned in the near perfect sixty minute performance as the brave Clare champions Coolmeen were completely an d utterly overcome. 

It's a rare occurrence indeed to witness a team winning a Munster championship scoring 2-17 and every single score coming from open play, amazing. And this is no so called flash in the pan because these lads have been breaking all records since they first came together as under tens. The club had been rooted to the bottom of division five from 2000 to 2011 winning an odd game here and there while barely surviving and struggling g to even exist as they fought to field teams. A lot of people have put in an amount of magnificent work to direct and guide, to coach and train this exceptionally talented bunch of young men. And now they are reaching their full potential as Kerry/Templenoe footballers as the greatest prize of all draws tantalisingly close. Becoming All Ireland champions in Croke Park.

But it's their brand of football that excites most of all, open, free flowing, devoid of all negative tactics, Kerry football at his very best, young men expressing themselves through their actions on the field for their beloved club. And for them it's all about their club, the club, the foundation of the association but sadly club players let me add here condemned by administrators to play at the worst possible time of the year, it's simply going from bad to worse for club players. And not one divisional championship completed yet.  We listen to a lot of empty promises but action speaks louder than words and from those in charge it's a case of "maybe next year".

Nevertheless the story goes on and next weekend Templenoe will play Gneveguilla in their last county league game of the year and if they win they will be prompted as champions of division two. But this is not the whole story, a win for them would secure a fourth league crown in five years as they have blitzed all before them racing like the proverbial comet from the bottom of division five to division one of the Kerry county league. They will light up the first division next year as they cross swords with the county top teams.

It's hard to beat the youth, and just three of the team that started last Sunday in Mallow are not still in education and only one member of the panel is married, ( not that I have anything against married men let me add). To reach this level of fitness and skill it's very evident that the Templenoe lads are hugely committed to the club and with most of the panel living outside the county several two and three hour journeys are undertaken twice a week as training continues.

Mention Valentia and you immediately associate the name with Mick o Connell, reference to Waterville and Mick o Dwyer at once comes to mind, John Egan and Sneem are synonymous as is Ventry and Paidi o Se. So too mention Templenoe and you think of the Spillane's. It all an association of football ideas. The handing down of traditions and the young men of Templenoe are now in a very privileged place as they captivate and thrill their families and followers on what is a wonderful voyage.

It was very emotional in Mallow last Sunday as the cup was being presented to exemplary captain Tadhg Morley and one man who made no secret of how he felt was the Pat Spillane. He had seen his family members win their Munster medals, he and his two brothers Mick and Tom hold something like thirty Munster football medals between them.  He summed up wonderfully to me as tears of sheer joy flowed freely exactly what this win means and what club loyalty is all about.

"We dream about these days all our lives and yes Weeshie I am very emotional, it's a great day, we are a small club with a big heart, we have great families, great supporters and I remember well the bad days as we went through ten years winning just four games in the county league, but we soldiered on and this is the icing on the cake". So what was so special about that moment for the man who holds eight All Ireland senior medals, he looked around at the cheering crowds and replied. "These are my neighbours, family, friends, people who I grew up with, we soldiered together all our lives, from a small community, and this is what the GAA is all about, communities". He praised the players and like all others he emphasised exactly the style of football they play.  "This generation is very special, they play Kerry football at its very best, Skill and movement of the ball, kick passing, great score taking, good forward play, not negative, it a pleasure to see them in action".

Templenoe, Munster champions, pushing back the boundaries, proving that the heart of one's community is special and the local GAA club plays such a vital part in its development. Ballyboden St Endas won this first Leinster senior club championship last Sunday, they draw from a massive population are one of the biggest clubs in Ireland, fielding close to one hundreds teams in all grades. Comparing them with Templenoe is like chalk and cheese, they are light years apart, but for me the successes of this little Kerry club overcoming all the odds stacked against them far and away surpasses the achievements of the Dublin giants. 

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